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African renewable energy sources underused says Kenyan power expert

Continent to see increased focus on geothermal, wind, solar & biomass

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Renewable energy

African’s rich renewable sources are being underused even though the continent aims to connect 60 million new households to electricity grids by 2030. The under-utilisation claim was made by Wnaguli Charles Wainaina, the Chief Procurement Officer of the Kenya Electricity Generating Co. Ltd ahead of his buying visit to Middle East Energy, the mega global power event, which runs at the Dubai World Trade Centre from March 3-5.           

Mr Wataina, who is being hosted at Middle East Energy organised by Informa Markets, said recently the African power scene had undergone transformation to a more renewable focus but needed to boost efficiency of the approach.

“There has been a paradigm shift in energy generation sources with increased focus and investment on renewable energy i.e geothermal, wind, solar and biomass. In my view, this trend to harness more renewable energy is informed by the fact that hydroelectric power generation, which has been the predominant energy source, has proved quite unreliable in Africa due to shrinking water resources, exacerbated by climate change. Similarly, mass burning of fossil fuels for power generation e.g. coal, diesel and gasoline is considered environmentally unfriendly due to pollution, carbon emissions, and is also costly for Africa’s economies which are largely constrained,” he explained.

The Kenyan official said much more could be done to reap the benefits of Africa’s natural resources.

“Research shows that Africa is rich in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal, yet they are vastly underused,” he said. “These sources have proven to be more reliable, cheap and sustainable, and with the increased industrialization in Africa, Governments are keen on ensuring provision of competitively priced energy as an economic catalyst to sustain industrialization and manufacturing. In addition, renewable energy sources are less polluting to the environment as they involve less carbon emissions and as such, Governments are focused on cutting emissions while increasing energy access to both citizens and investors.”

Mr Wataina’s comments come as the African Development Bank Group says the 54 countries that make up the continent need an average annual investment of between US $29-39 billion until 2025 to realise its ‘New Deal – Energy for Africa.’ The New Deal aims to boost the number of African households who have access to electricity. Currently only between 35%-45% of the continent’s population have a power connection.

Mr Wataina is at Middle East Energy looking to build contacts with manufacturers of strategic electrical equipment, spares and machine parts that support geothermal power generation. “Specifically, I am interested in establishing a wider supply market for electrical solutions which I consider strategic to our operations,” he explained. “I believe that through networking sessions with manufacturers/ dealers of this equipment, we shall be able to jointly work together to develop supply market solutions for my organization, and for mutual benefit.”

The Kenya official is part of the exclusive Middle East Energy Connect platform initiated which brings together more than 300 global decision-makers and energy industry experts from around the world.

The programme is held in an uninterrupted environment away from the Middle East Energy exhibition floor and is aimed at facilitating meetings between key stakeholders to explore new high-level opportunities and collaborations.

“It’s a place where members can grow their global network, discuss key industry challenges, share experiences and access new markets in a VIP atmosphere,” explained Claudia Konieczna, Exhibition Director, Middle East Energy.

Middle East Energy 2020 – previously known as Middle East Electricity - has attracted over 1,200 exhibitors from more than 130 countries who will demonstrate breakthrough technology that is changing the entire energy eco-system. The mega event will also feature a strategic conference series under the overarching theme: ‘Energy in Transition, connecting the world: Demand, Digitalisation, Diversification.’ The series will feature a high-calibre line-up of 150-plus speakers who will provide critical insights and discuss the industry’s future with representatives of utility providers, governments, procurement, project managers and contractors.

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